Two German men have been jailed for four-and-a-half months for taking rare geckos from two South Island sites.
Dieter Ernst, 56 and Thorsten Richartz, 47, were arrested in March and charged with possessing four jewelled geckos which had come from Otago Peninsula and Banks Peninsula.[image:1894:half:left]
The men were caught in a joint operation involving the police, the Department of Conservation (DOC), Customs, the Wildlife Enforcement Group and the public.
They pleaded guilty to separate charges of hunting protected wildlife and possessing the geckos, DOC says.
DOC Coastal Otago Area Manager Robin Thomas says the men are suspected of being involved in the illegal international trade of geckos. He hopes the penalties for stealing protected wildlife can be increased to deter such crimes.
He says members of the public people have been watching out for smugglers and providing a huge of amount of information about their activities.